After a new TMZ documentary reignited the conversation around Richard Simmons’ whereabouts, the reclusive fitness guru and pop culture icon addressed fans with an endearing message this week.
On his official Facebook page, Simmons, 74, shared a picture of a yellow smiley face holding up a red banner that says, “Thank you!”
“Thank you, everyone, for your kindness and love!,” he captioned the Wednesday post.
While short, the rare update from Simmons came days after Fox aired “TMZ Investigates: What Really Happened to Richard Simmons” on Monday. The television documentary, which tracked Simmons’ rise to fame and retreat from the spotlight, offered a fairly straightforward explanation for Simmons’ disappearance from the public eye in 2014.
According to the documentary, Simmons sank “into a deep depression” after doctors in 2014 urged him to undergo a major surgery for his left knee.
“And if he didn’t get one, he might never be able to exercise again. Now, this is key to the disappearance of Richard Simmons,” the documentary claims.
Also in the doc, actor and author Suzanne Somers said she and Simmons were once supposed to appear on Larry King’s talk show until Simmons declined.
“I heard through the ‘Larry King’ people that he didn’t want to be on the show with me,” she said, adding that she was told Simmons was scared of being ridiculed by her.
“That’s not my style, I never make fun of anybody,” she said. “But that’s when I realized a little insecurity has gotten in there.
“I liked him. I was always so surprised when he thought I’d make fun of him. But doesn’t that show you he’s got a heartache? Something’s broken inside because he did it. He had it and then let it go.”
The TMZ doc isn’t the first attempt to uncover why Simmons retreated and then abruptly shuttered his L.A. fitness studio in 2016.
In 2017, Dan Taberski launched the “Missing Richard Simmons” podcast, which revisited the speculation and gossip behind Simmons’ disappearance and featured interviews with the exercise expert’s friends.
Rumors then swirled around his well-being. In 2016, the National Enquirer claimed Simmons had transitioned to become a woman, which he quickly shut down. “I feel compelled to set the record straight and refute these lies,” he wrote in a statement posted to Facebook.
In an interview with the “Today” show that same year, Simmons refuted claims that he was being controlled by his housekeeper and reassured fans that he was safe.
“No one is holding me in my house as a hostage; I do what I want to do as I’ve always done,” he said. “So people should just believe what I have to say, because, like, I’m Richard Simmons.”
After Simmons’ latest update, fans reciprocated his love, writing nearly 5,000 positive responses on his Facebook post as of Friday.
“You have done so much good in so many people’s lives,” one fan replied. “Thank you for all that you have done and are still doing. None of us will ever forget you!”
“Thank YOU, for being such an excellent and kind human all these years,” another said. “You’ve been missed.”